With spring already underway and various regions of our USA getting warmed up finally, the interest to get out and do some container gardening is encouraging gardeners to purchase gardening pots, containers, and various vegetable and flower starts to grow.
One of the things that is most important and a somewhat time consuming task to the gardener of the 21st century is properly watering the potted plants they have purchased. Various brands of potting soils tout the benefits of this ' special soil additive ' or that special 'water retention' ingredient but beware ! Not all potting soil mixes are really advisable to be using with your container plants because of proven scientific data that shows an ingredient used in some of those 'Water Retention Soils ' 'Polyacrylamide Hydrogels or other wise known as 'root watering crystals' are constructed of Acrylamide which is a lethal neurotoxin.
Acrylamide has been found to cause cancer in laboratory test * It can pass through the skin and also be inhaled as dust.
Years ago 'Cross-Linked Polymers' were the craze of most gardeners and landscapers. I used the polymers in various landscaping projects with the hopes of reducing water usage on lawns and my most interesting experience was installing too many polymers within a front lawn turf installation and once the polymer's hydrated, the lawn was like walking on a 300 sq, foot sponge ! So much for landscape use of polymers for me after that experience.
There are safer products that are available today that do not have the chemical dangers as the before mentioned Polyacrylamide Hydrogels that break down naturally in the soil after so many months and have no ill health effects on humans or pets which makes them safe for food production and around the home use.
Also by practicing safe 'Old Style' gardening practices such as compost use and mulching, today's busy gardener can have productive and enjoyable container gardens that will add good health and social benefits to their homes and communities.
Please check out this link to learn more about a product we use in our award winning projects that help our clients reduce and improve water use in their container plantings.
* Research notes derived from a great article by Linda Chalker-Scott, PH.D., Extension Horticulturist and Associate Professor Puyallup Research and Extension Center, Washington State University. " The Myth of Polyacrylamide Hydrogels "
There are various landscape rebate programs available that pay home owners and commercial property owners cash rebates on upgrading their existing landscaping to reduce water use and to contain valuable rain water runoff onto the existing properties via rain gardens, bio-swells, etc..
Here in Southern California we have a state wide website: ( www.bewaterwise.com ) by entering in your site location the website will link you into available rebate programs and their requirements if they are available within your area. I encourage you also to check with your local water supplier or to whom you pay your water/utility bill to as they may also offer generous rebates on retro-fitting your existing landscape irrigation system and landscaping to become more water conservative.
Water thrifty landscaping does not always mean getting a 'Desert Look' or installing a bunch of cactus all over your old lawn areas. ( even though some of my clients love this look ) Incorporating native shrubs, trees, and ground covers will improve the over all look and environmental sustainability for beneficial insects and birds that help keep our living areas safe, beautiful, and economically sustainable.
I will be sharing in future blogs tips on the basics of native plant selection, wild life and local ecosystem health, growing native plants in containers , lawn substitutes, growing native food gardens, and much more so be sure to check back here at Ed's Blogs and be sure to leave your comments on suggested topics and questions on any of my postings.
Thank you !